• Tag Archives novel
  • Missing Returned

    Winter                                                         Seed Catalog Moon

    Got my manuscript back today from the copy editor, Robert Klein, at quickproofs.  I haven’t looked at it, but I will, probably not seriously until I get back from Denver.  Some nervousness about it, because after I accept or reject his various edits then I have to get serious about submitting it to agents.  This is the point at which I’ve clenched over the years, a combination of perfectionism and self-doubt.  I’m determined to push through that this time.


  • Too Many Words

    Imbolc                                           Garden Planning Moon

    Still plugging away at 1,500 words a day.  The novel is sort of baggy right now.  Lots of words, probably, as the Emperor famously said to Mozart, too many words.  I’m not quite at the Mozart level where I can comfortably say every word is necessary.  I’m not even in the Salieri league.  Hell, I’m at best playing Legion ball, hoping for a look from the scouts.

    Which is not to say, however, that it will not improve.  This novel will receive much more attention after I finish the rough draft.  Much more.  It will reach a point where it contains as many words as I mean it to have, no more, no less.

    This time I’m eager to get to the rewriting.  Writing is in the rewriting.  Though this blog rarely gets rewritten.

    So, the superbowl.  Well, I don’t have a dog in this fight.  Haven’t had a football dog since the late, great now permanently retired Brett Favre returned for one season too many. I like having Sunday afternoons free in the winter.

    As to the weather.  Hell.




  • Unchain My TP

    Winter                                         Garden Planning Moon

    Second (and last of this class) photoshop class tonight.  Boy, is this a complex program and it’s only one in the Creative Suite.  Lot of cool things but they will require a good bit of fiddling with before I get good with them.  A lot of fiddling.

    (granddaughter Ruth and lightning)

    As I walked to the parking lot from the huge Champlain High School building tonight, it hit me that this is the future for many of us over 65.  Classes, taking up space in buildings occupied by kids during the day.  And what a great deal that we have this kind of learning available.

    Last week I used one of the second floor bathrooms.  In the men’s room the toilet paper was on a heavy, padlocked metal chain.  The janitor was there and I asked him about it.  He said you wouldn’t believe the condition of the restrooms at the end of many school days.

    Best news.  My cousin Leisa, in a coma for a couple of months following a stroke, has begun to speak.  Stunning and happy news.

    A productive day, another 1,500 words on Missing, some tentative stabs at the first essay in Reimagining and a long workout with little knee pain.  Yeah.

    Since I’ve shifted to this new work schedule, life seems fuller and busier.  Seems odd, but it’s true.  I guess I’m stuck with an internal engine that will just keep humming along until it can’t work anymore.  There are much worse predicaments.  In fact this may not be a predicament, just life continuing.

  • A Morning During Our Long November

    Winter                            First Moon of the New Year

    Our long November continues.  Patchy snow, mostly bare ground and leafless trees.  Occasional sunshine, like today, otherwise gloomy and gray.   I’m disappointed in the season since I believe we have to earn our springs here and I’m not sure we’re going to this year.  Of course, last year may have counted for two.

    Action method and Evernote have both made my work on the computer much more productive.  I can switch seamlessly among projects now without having to do a lot of hunting for files and resources.  Since my days have become more and more study oriented this means a lot to me.

    (remember last winter?)

    Kate’s out having lunch with a friend, Penny.  I worked on Ovid, finished up my ten verses for this week.  This afternoon I’ll check out my objects for my two China tours tomorrow and probably enter some more of the material I wrote last March at Blue Cloud.

    I’m getting close to having that finished.  Once I do, I’ll go back over my notes and start writing again.  I expect I’ll have a rough draft finished in February if things go well.  I’ll start on Book II after that.


  • Rereading

    Samain                                  Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Today, the novel.  Rereading old work, this material is from the beginning of this year, has an odd flavor.  Some of it I read and, boy, what was I thinking?  The pencil scratches out words, lines, paragraphs.  Sections get moved, some eliminated.  Other parts.  Hmmm.  The bones of something is here, not all bad.

    This world, Tailte and the mythos of the Great Goddess, has an expansiveness to it, a rich and textured feeling, as if I might write in it for a long time.  That aspect of this work feels very good.

    Rereading though goes slowly and until I’m done I won’t start writing new material.  I have about 2/3’s of the novel written, maybe a little less.  If all goes well, I might have a manuscript finished by May.  Then, I’ll set it aside for another six months and return to either Superior Wolf or Jennie’s Dead, two novels I’ve had underway for several years.

    The other feeling, maybe inescapable unless you write like Maughm, Kafka, Tolstoy, is the considerable insignificance of the work.  It feels small, as if the world it is in might matter too little, be of too small a consequence.

    No writer can make that judgment for their own work, no artist can, but the thought of laboring for years and cranking out filler, well, that can be deadly.  At times this notion, the matter of mattering, has stopped me.  Knocked me out cold.  Sent me to reading or politics or volunteering at the art museum or growing a vegetable garden.

    Not this time.  In the end this is my work.  For whatever value it has beyond me, it is my work and it is the best that I can do.  That’s enough.  It has to be.

  • Words.

    Imbolc                                                            Waxing Bridgit Moon

    “Belief in the truth commences with the doubting of all those ‘truths’ we once believed.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    This intellectual bomb-thrower has always been a favorite of mine though I’ve not ready any of his stuff cover to cover.  A recent bio tries to make him into a closet hyper-religious, but if he is he did the damndest job of hiding it.  Sometimes I think an atheist is just an atheist and not a cigar.

    I have felt the force flowing with me ever since the retreat.  There’s something about being lifted in the mosh pit of old friends that buoys the soul.  I’ve got out the pages of Missing I’ve written so far and am finishing an edit/revision I began a while ago, then I’m going to pick up the keyboard and set byte to screen.  Kate and I also identified a week in March when I can go back out to Blue Cloud and work intensively on the novel.  I’m still weighing it since it seems indulgent, but, hey, maybe it’s time for this kind of indulgence.

    We had our business meeting this morning and I had a post-retirement anxiety tremor, so we ran numbers out past 2012.  Hah.  As if it matters.  After 2012.  Just in case, though, we ran them anyhow and the numbers do begin to make sense when looked at over a period of time.  My tremor quieted.

    Had a call this morning from a brother asking for some reassurance.  I gave it, though I’m not sure how my input helped. It’s humbling to be asked for such a thing.

    Met with Leslie, the UU student at UTS that I’m mentoring this year.  It’s fun to watch a young person, she’s my age when I was in Sem, go through the back and forth of this strange vocation, ministry.  Had I a chance to do it over again, knowing what I know now, I would have worked at McDonald’s.  No.  Not really.  But, I wouldn’t have gone into the ministry.  Maybe art history.  Maybe politics full time.  Maybe something else, but I wouldn’t have ended up in the ministry.  But, I did.  Go figure.

  • Still Learning

    Samhain                                                                    Waxing Moon of the Winter Solstice

    The moon light, bright in the southern sky, casts shadows, thin skeletons of trees and shrubs splayed out upon the snow.

    This Latin stuff is fun.  Going back and forth among dictionaries, grammars, websites, puzzling out the verbs and the nouns, trying to fit it all together into English, peeking inside Ovid, at least reading Ovid in his native language.  I know it’s weird, but I really enjoy it.

    I feel about it like I feel about art history; I wish I hadn’t waited so long.  On the other hand the two together give this final third of my life mental vitality.  I’m only getting started.

    Oh.  Picked up the novel I’d set aside, about a third done.  It has promise.  Need to find time for it.

  • A Warm-Blooded Insect?

    Spring                                         Waxing Awakening Moon

    Sunny, but cool though warm weather seems fated to come our way.  Ice out has advanced on Round Lake though there is still rough, weak ice over most of its surface.  Many daffodils have speared their way up through the leaves and other detritus from last falls end of the growing season.  I’ve seen a few hosta roll-ups, too.  I put in my last order of bee stuff yesterday, bringing seven honey supers, 70 super frames and 50 super foundations, a copper hive cover and 75 frame and foundations for the deep hive bodies.

    The old machine shed, now to be the honey house needs a thorough cleansing which will be an early task once the weather moves away from soggy and I have some time for outside work.

    Today, in just a couple of minutes, I have a call about Matt Entenza’s gubernatorial campaign.  They want my thoughts on environmental issues.  They can have every one of them.  After the call, on to the language of ancient Rome.  Later in the day I may revise Liberal II.  That novel just sits there right now.  Waiting.  Meanwhile my promiscuous creative spirit entertains other guests, a new project, a big project, that will follow After the Hawthorn Wars.

    Here’s another jaw dropper that I learned about bees during my bee course.  Over the winter the colony becomes a large cluster with all the bees hanging, literally, together, shivering.  The shivering produces heat and keeps the colony alive during the temperature drops of winter.  This means, said Marla Spivak, that in winter the colony, the whole colony, acts like a warm blooded animal.  The colony is a super-organism that gathers food, births larvae and nurses them, takes diseased and deceased members, defends itself and takes up a lot of time with architecture as well.

    Since the cluster happens inside the hive boxes, it is difficult to picture.  I’ve chosen a swarm in the picture here, to show you a cluster, but not like the one I had in my first colony this winter.

  • A Grand Tour

    Imbolc                             Waning Wild Moon

    I took folks on a Grand Tour at the MIA this afternoon, seeing objects from the historical period 1600-1850.  I expanded the Grand Tour idea and took it beyond the confines of Italy and France to include North America, Africa and Asia.  The folks on the tour, five, Allison and four women together, and I traveled the world in a little over an hour.

    One of the women, an ICU nurse at Southdale, said of Lucretia, she looks she’s trying to stabilize herself.  This from a person who sees people in extremis every day at work.  I’m inclined to believe now that Lucretia is stabilizing herself.  This same woman, a practical woman of science and data, she described herself this way, has a son who has begun to study the Middle Ages.  She seemed a bit puzzled by his choice and wondered about just what the Middle Ages were.  Allison gave the group a pitch about bringing in friends for tours and she wondered about organizing a tour of medieval art, to learn more about what her son had chosen to study.

    The tour at 1 o’clock breaks up the day though and I got a late nap and didn’t get on the treadmill until 6 pm.  The writing this  morning was fine, but the time was too short.  When I  write I like to have a clear morning and time for a nap in the afternoon.  Not so today.  I’m now over 50,000 words into the new novel, which should be about midway.  Revision and changes along the way could change that of course.

  • Gonna Take That Wild Last Ride

    Imbolc                                         Waxing Wild Moon

    Back at the novel today, 1,800 words.  There’s an uphill struggle to get back in the groove when I let a week or so slip by with no work on it.  Like navigating the turns in the fast luge track at Whistler, I get stuck at the start, but once the momentum picks up, I can dive into a chicane with confidence.  Back at it now headed down the track.

    Self confidence is so fragile, at least for me, and I expect for many of us.  If I could graph mine’s rise and fall even in the course of a day, it would mimic a wild stock ride, selling up at one moment, then a run and a price in sudden decline.  And then the reverse.  Again.  Even now.

    Example.  I came downstairs feeling pretty good about getting back to the novel.  Granted I skipped exercise tonight to keep on writing, but overall that felt good.  Then I went on Amazon’s website to check out an author Mark Odegard recommended, Dan Simmons.  Sure enough, he’s doing stuff enough like what I’m trying to do to make me nervous.  He’s already sold a lot.  I haven’t.

    Now there’s a steadier core that chugs alone just underneath all this oscillation–the ego worried about its reception in the world–and that core is the one that, walking the garbage and recycling out tonight under a gorgeous waxing wild moon, reflected that no matter how gifted and accomplished, we all die, then sink away into oblivion.  Yes, a few don’t–Homer, Socrates, Qin Shi Huangdi, Confucius, Emily Dickinson, Boadicea, Teresea of Avila, Pancho Villa, Montezuma, Geronimo, Einstein, Chopin, Bach, Da Vinci for example–but the bulk of us, the 99.999999% of all who have ever lived, live in the best way we can, then slowly fade, first in body, then in memory, then we’re gone.

    This one knows that the best life is the one we live on our own terms, not on borrowed hopes and dreams and not judged by externalities.  At 63 the core has become stronger and stronger, often balancing the ego’s surges and falls before they happen, but it is not yet dominant, at least not all of the time.  The devil of expectations still sticks a pitchfork into my ego every once and a while.  Predictably, my ego squeals.

    If you have a chance tomorrow night, go outside and look at the moon around 9:00 pm if the night is clear.  The moon sat up there in the sky tonight, Orion off to its southeast, other stars around it like diamonds around a fat, lustrous pearl.  A work of art that needs no hand, but satisfies the eye.